I was invited to attend the final dress rehearsal of 'Viva Elvis!' (the last show prior to Grand Opening and paid customers) two nights ago. For anyone who missed out on Thanksgiving, here is your helping of turkey. This show answers the question "What is a French Canadian acrobat's impression of Elvis' songs?" and nothing more. It will be a terrific disappointment for any Elvis fans. The entire (and lengthy) show hangs as if suspended at the moment prior to the entrance of the star... but no star ever appears. Here are the cogent points:
1. There is no Elvis presence at all. Elvis never appears, either in character form or musically. Unlike the well-received and -conceived 'Beatles-Love' show, this show doesn't even use Elvis' versions of his songs!
Instead a French-Canadian band plays their new arrangements of all the songs live.
2. Except for some screen shots, Elvis doesn't appear in his show. Cirque chose not to use an Elvis performer;
they had hired one from just south of Quebec for some scenes, but fired him just before the show's dress
rehearsals. Some of the dancers, such as a stilt-walker, wear Elvis costume variants, but again, there is no
focal Elvis represented.
3. The usual splits, aerial stuff and contortionists don't create any real excitement. It all looks completely like a
rehash of all of the prior Cirque shows in Vegas (right now there are about 7). Nothing new here.
4. The rearranged musical versions of Elvis' songs don't accomplish the single most important thing about any
show about Elvis: the importance of his abilities as a vocalist to present any song at its best. Go to WalMart
and buy one of those 'HITS OF ELVIS / performed by the New Harmony Singers' CD's and save your money.
It is the same thing, for $100 less.
At the 1 hour mark, my friend who I attended the show with turned to me and whispered 'my god, we're only up to 1968 so far'. This echoed my sentiments. The show ended up at about 1:40 long and went nowhere the whole time.
Had Cirque chosen to, they could have drawn from a deep pool of Vegas talent, from Elvis performers to the musicians, and created a show with a tremendous Elvis feel: rockabilly music done right, dancers who learned the Elvis moves from expert ETAs, even tech people who lit and mixed Elvis REAL shows here at the Int'l/Hilton. They could have nailed it... instead they brought in 'their people' from Quebec and made a show that misses all the marks for bringing audiences the 'heart' of Elvis' popularity - his own sincerity, talent and magnetism.
Elvis never even entered this building.